Frank Zappa playing over a massive rock concert audio system at a château? Was I really at a Bordeaux château at dinner? There's a first time for everything!
I went to a remarkable dinner last night at Château Ducru Beaucaillou, and, yes, Zappa was playing for part of it (though obviously not in the flesh, since he died a long time ago). The famous St. Julien second-growth laid on a phenomenal dinner for about 600 people in black tie and evening dress to celebrate the Fête de la St.-Jean. And the ambiance, food, and wine were all mind-blowing. I am not a great follower of this holiday, but it is apparently to honor Jean the Baptist. (I think it was just an excuse to have an amazing party last night, because Ducru owner Bruno Borie does not strike me as that religious.)
The "burning" of Château Ducru Beaucaillou, in honor of the Fête de la St.-Jean.
The traditional holiday ceremony usually includes bonfires, so Borie decided to simulate burning down his château. It might have been a little extreme. Using audio, video, smoke, and real fire, it looked like the entire building was burning to the ground. It was hard to believe, but it was some of the most fascinating pyrotechnics I have seen in my life.
It made me think back to the first VinExpo I attended, in 1983. I was young and had very little knowledge about wine, or Bordeaux. I attended a lunch at Prieuré-Lichine, where I met Bruno Borie's late father, Jean-Eugene Borie, along with his château owner and négociant buddies Bruno Prats, Hugh Lawton, Anthony Barton and others. We tasted the 1982 from barrel, and they were instructing me on the right way to taste young wines from barrel.
It was an easy-going encounter, and, afterward, we sat down to a simple lunch and discussed Bordeaux and its wines. We drank some of the barrel samples, because they were so balanced, rich and approachable. There were very few big parties at châteaus at that time, except at the Fête de la Fleur at the end of VinExpo.
My, how things have changed! His son's party last night reminded me of how Bordeaux has become THE showcase for all great wines of the world. It's what Hollywood is to the film and the music industries, or New York City to business. May be VinExpo is dated and needs to reinvent itself, but bringing the wine world to Bordeaux is a good, necessary thing.
The tables of elegant people last night at the dinner were from all over the world: Moscow to Seoul to Mexico City to New York to Los Angeles to Paris. There were wine merchants, wine producers, château owners, actors, artists, chefs ... the range of attendees was vast. But they were all there to celebrate a great wine estate and the fine and excellent wines of Bordeaux. And that's a good thing, indeed, for the wine world.
John Shuey — Carrollton, TX — June 25, 2009 3:27pm ET
Marc Robillard — Montreal,Canada — June 26, 2009 9:21am ET
Ryan Schmied — Miami, FL. USA — June 27, 2009 10:53pm ET
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